Disney & DIC

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Posted by Charles on June 03, 1999 at 23:28:29:

It appears that there are some changes in the works concerning the Disney Company's animation production infrastructure.

Disney TV Animation will cease to produce television product. Their direct-to-video department, which has always been under the TV division's flag, will fall under Feature's wings. Animation production for television will be handled by two companies that Disney owns - DIC of Burbank and Jumbo of New York, I believe.

The significant thing about this recent development is that DIC has been perhaps the most notorious non-Union studio in the L.A. area. They've been on American shores since 1982 and at one time in the mid to late 1980's, were the biggest producer of animation for television in the industry. In the last few years, DIC (nobody really knows what the letters stand for other than "Do It Cheap") has been sending pre-production design to Europe and Canada, forsaking an in house staff except for a hand full of development artists and some local freelancers. They're an interesting animation studio if you've ever had the opportunity of visiting their digs. They're an animation studio with hardly any artists to be seen anymore. Producers, directors, associate producers and production coordinators instead. A great team of friendly people, well versed in sending and receiving faxed artwork as well as packaging and shipping boxes full of pre-production designs and translated storyboards.

The odd thing is that Disney is a Union signator which owns a non-Union studio. They wound up with DIC as a result of the Capital Cities acquisition and merger in 1995. The Union tried in vain to force DIC to become a Union shop back in 1987 and '88. They even took them to court but DIC set themselves up to offer bare bones benefits for their artist employees, almost all of whom never got a chance to enjoy those benefits because they never could work there long enough to qualify for them. A few months and out you go. That is, except for management employees who had parking, paid vacations, everything that goes along with full time, year round jobs.

There was a vote at DIC in early May concerning whether or not DIC would become a Union shop. The results have been kept under wraps as DIC is appealing the situation to the appropriate government agency. It's not hard to guess which way the vote went if DIC finds reason for appeal. If that's the case and DIC goes Union, perhaps more artists from the L.A. area will be able to find some gainful employment at a company well known for its disassociation with our community, all for the sake of the financial gain of a small group of people who head up that company and have done quite well for themselves by anyone's standards.

I bet those good ol' boys at IATSE are as happy as a clam in chowder about this. Maybe they'll actually get around to funding independent projects! Or even defending Union artists who are suffering from employer abuse! Or artists being forced to sign illegal contracts before they can get paid! Or maybe even pressing the issue of animation work from major Union shops being illegally sent to Korean animation studios in downtown L.A., causing artists on 839's own executive board to be unemployed!

Keep fighting for the little guy, fellas!

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